ATCAA RESPECTFULLY DENIES CALAVERAS SUPERVISORS' REQUEST TO RELINQUISH ITS UTILITY BILL ASSISTANCE
Oct. 16, 2023 -- After receiving formal direction by state officials and discussion on Friday’s ATCAA Board meeting, (view packet here) Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency, the tri-counties' longstanding public, not-for-profit low-income service provider is drafting a formal response to the Calaveras BOS announcing that it must reject a recent request by Calaveras County government officials.
In the past several months, the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA) Board of Directors became aware of movements within Calaveras County emanating from the Calaveras Mariposa Community Action Agency (CMCAA) and Calaveras County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) to, for uninformed reasons, seize control of the Calaveras portion of funding for several utility-related programs that ATCAA has been delivering to those in need for over four decades. Among these programs are LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance) a related energy conservation-weatherization program, and LIHWAP (Low-Income Household Water Assistance) programs.
ATCAA has spent decades developing the infrastructure necessary to deliver these services to Amador, Tuolumne, and Calaveras County residents through state funding administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD). These funds are specifically made available to legislatively approved LIHEAP Service Providers (LSP’s) across the state. Each LSP is regularly monitored, audited and reports of their activities are publicly available. ATCAA's service record consistently remains in good standing with the state.
After public criticisms of ATCAA, which also argued the need for Calaveras County to seize control of program funding for the county by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, CMCAA and CCHHS Staff based on misinformation, State officials from CSD queried ATCAA. State officials informed ATCAA that ATCAA has no legal authority to support Calaveras County's request. ATCAA was also informed that the Service Area (Amador, Calaveras, and Tuolumne) it has been on contract to support since 1982 cannot be broken up. ATCAA officials were told that if ATCAA chooses to no longer service Calaveras, then CSD will look for qualified providers somewhere within the State to support the entire Service Area.
As the choice does not advance Calaveras County interests and ATCAA is obviously opposed to giving up the entire LIHEAP Service Area, ATCAA will state in a written a letter to the Calaveras County BOS that though ATCAA is unwilling to give up its entire service area, ATCAA is offering to work collaboratively with Calaveras which could include a sub-contracted arrangement for Energy Intake/Outreach staff specifically for Calaveras residents and offers a pathway to Calaveras representation on ATCAA’s board.
“It is unfortunate that the misinformed Calaveras BOS chose to react based on assumptions and inaccurate information. Though we have no authority to support their request, we are offering to collaborate,” states Joe Bors, ATCAA’s Executive Director. ATCAA has also offered to help Calaveras establish other services such as VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program in their region.
Bors is also mindful of the passion the Calaveras BOS feels for their constituents who are struggling. “Many residents in the foothills are struggling with the economy and souring energy bills. Unfortunately, we are only provided a set amount of funding for each county, and we consistently spend out all funds allotted.”
Eligibility for utility bill help is based on income and family size. Click the link, for applications and more information on ATCAA’s Energy programs.
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